Reading “The Alchemist” in Spanish

My review of Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist is one of my most popular posts. The Alchemist is one of my favorite books; I connect deeply with the message. I feel that it was introduced to me at a pivotal moment in my life — the message appeared exactly when I needed to hear it.

Last summer, a good friend’s long-term girlfriend handed me a copy of The Alchemist. They’re both engineers, based in Seattle. They were making great money, lived in a modern apartment with a magnificent view, and seemed to be doing great. “It’s my favorite book,” the girlfriend told me as she handed me the book. She longed for travel, like I had done.

Mt. Rainer loomed in the distance, visible from their apartment window. The boyfriend spoke of climbing it next summer. I thought that sounded fun. But you could tell, it wasn’t the girlfriend’s dream.

I was just back from extended travel in Asia. I was unemployed, emotionally devastated, and unsure of what to do with my life. I had been home for two months, floating around from friend to friend, spending my days mostly sleeping and trying to make sense of everything I had learned from breaking up with my girlfriend in the Hong Kong airport, and going on to Nepal. I was spending money recklessly, including coming out to Seattle for just a weekend. Chasing my dreams had, in a very real way, destroyed my life.

If there is a better time to be handed a book about the power and importance of following your dreams, I don’t know when it would be.

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Book Review: Our Appointment with Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

I picked up a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Our Appointment with Life” from Tibet Bookstore in Kathmandu. It cost 300 rupees (about $3), according to the sticker that’s still on my copy. You can purchase it on Amazon for $9.95 on Amazon.

I mean, if you’ve got the time I highly recommend traveling to Nepal, but unless you’re buying A LOT of books, it’s probably not economically sensible.

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Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

My sister Christina and I both read Americanah at the same time. Since I never got around to writing a full review of it, I asked Christina to share her thoughts. Since she lived in Benin, a country neighboring Nigeria, I feel she has a more interesting perspective on this title. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and Americanahdid make my list of “11 Books That Will Kickstart Your Wanderlust.” Here are Christina’s thoughts:

This was the first book I had read of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s, though I knew of her as a strong female Nigerian author. I was quite impressed and my “want to read” list on Goodreads now contains all of her books.

Adichie does a remarkable job of weaving together many different experiences of identity, coming of age, race, love, and the idea of “home” in this compelling novel.

Click to read on:

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11 Books That Will Kickstart Your Wanderlust

Before I ever left home, I’d left home a thousands times in the pages of the books I loved. I grew up as a bookish kid, who wolfed down words faster than food. Still today, after I’ve been to more than 20 countries, books have this wonderful ability to take me to new places — even when I’m nowhere more exotic than a comfy armchair in my own home.

Here are 11 of my favorite books to kickstart your wanderlust:
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Book Review: Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard

 

Last Saturday, I found myself in Trident Booksellers, a cute coffee shop/bookstore in downtown Boulder, Colorado. Trident sits off the West End of the Pearl Street Mall, in the shadow of Boulder’s signature Flatirons—three iconic rocks that provide a slabby playground for the thousands of climbers that call the city home.

Even though the weather was beautiful, I wasn’t spending my weekend outside. I was alone, tapping away on my manuscript inside Trident. I spend a lot of days this way.

A man I know—a Bangladeshi Buddhist monk—tapped my table as he went to order a drink at the front. I smiled; happy to see him. He came back, Kombucha in hand. “We are studying out back, if you would like to join us.” I grinned a big grin, and said absolutely, I’d be out in a minute.

Boulder’s the sort of town where things like that aren’t too far out of the ordinary.

Out back, I found my monk with two friends who I had met once before, while rock climbing. They were all studying for their exams at Naropa University, a small Buddhist university. They asked me what I was doing. Writing my book, I responded. “Oh sweet, what’s it about?” one asked me. “Climbing?”

I laughed. “No, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that,” I said. “I am reading a book about climbing, though,” I said, brandishing a copy of Brendan Leonard’s new, bright-yellow book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere. “Have you guys been climbing since we last went?”

No!” the woman says. “We’ve tried to get out with Meg a few times, but it hasn’t happened.”

“I’ve got a rope and draws with me,” I said. “I could take you.”

We worked for a few hours, and then skipped off at 4:30, rushing home to grab our climbing gear, reconvene, and squeeze in some evening laps before the daylight died in Boulder Canyon.
We cheers over a few post-climb ciders and a vegetarian pie at Backcountry Pizza. Glad I ran into you two, I say. That was fun.

“I just feel so good after I climb,” the woman says. “I really want to learn more!”

This sentiment is what lies at the center of Brendan Leonard’s memoir, Sixty Meters to Anywhere.

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